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Pakistani newspaper ad seeks bids for a Great Firewall of Pakistan

The ad, clipped from one of the national Pakistani newspapers today (it apparently ran in all of them), seeks bids for a national censoring firewall: "Each box should be able to handle a block list of up to 50 million URLs (concurrent unidirectional filtering capacity) with processing delay of not more than 1 milliseconds."

(Thanks, Shari!)

Ambiguously ironic superfluous grocer's apo'strophe

Alice spotted this coffee cart from the (above average) London coffee chain Apostrophe, which includes a superfluous apostrophe. It's either ironic or too clever by far.

Oh the irony.

Web Kids' manifesto

Piotr Czerski's manifesto, "We, the Web Kids," originally appeared in a Polish daily newspaper, and has been translated to English and pastebinned. I'm suspicious of generational politics in general, but this is a hell of a piece of writing, even in translation.

Writing this, I am aware that I am abusing the pronoun ‘we’, as our ‘we’ is fluctuating, discontinuous, blurred, according to old categories: temporary. When I say ‘we’, it means ‘many of us’ or ‘some of us’. When I say ‘we are’, it means ‘we often are’. I say ‘we’ only so as to be able to talk about us at all.

1. We grew up with the Internet and on the Internet. This is what makes us different; this is what makes the crucial, although surprising from your point of view, difference: we do not ‘surf’ and the internet to us is not a ‘place’ or ‘virtual space’. The Internet to us is not something external to reality but a part of it: an invisible yet constantly present layer intertwined with the physical environment. We do not use the Internet, we live on the Internet and along it. If we were to tell our bildnungsroman to you, the analog, we could say there was a natural Internet aspect to every single experience that has shaped us. We made friends and enemies online, we prepared cribs for tests online, we planned parties and studying sessions online, we fell in love and broke up online. The Web to us is not a technology which we had to learn and which we managed to get a grip of. The Web is a process, happening continuously and continuously transforming before our eyes; with us and through us. Technologies appear and then dissolve in the peripheries, websites are built, they bloom and then pass away, but the Web continues, because we are the Web; we, communicating with one another in a way that comes naturally to us, more intense and more efficient than ever before in the history of mankind.

Brought up on the Web we think differently. The ability to find information is to us something as basic, as the ability to find a railway station or a post office in an unknown city is to you. When we want to know something - the first symptoms of chickenpox, the reasons behind the sinking of ‘Estonia’, or whether the water bill is not suspiciously high - we take measures with the certainty of a driver in a SatNav-equipped car. We know that we are going to find the information we need in a lot of places, we know how to get to those places, we know how to assess their credibility. We have learned to accept that instead of one answer we find many different ones, and out of these we can abstract the most likely version, disregarding the ones which do not seem credible. We select, we filter, we remember, and we are ready to swap the learned information for a new, better one, when it comes along.

To us, the Web is a sort of shared external memory. We do not have to remember unnecessary details: dates, sums, formulas, clauses, street names, detailed definitions. It is enough for us to have an abstract, the essence that is needed to process the information and relate it to others. Should we need the details, we can look them up within seconds. Similarly, we do not have to be experts in everything, because we know where to find people who specialise in what we ourselves do not know, and whom we can trust. People who will share their expertise with us not for profit, but because of our shared belief that information exists in motion, that it wants to be free, that we all benefit from the exchange of information. Every day: studying, working, solving everyday issues, pursuing interests. We know how to compete and we like to do it, but our competition, our desire to be different, is built on knowledge, on the ability to interpret and process information, and not on monopolising it.

We, the Web Kids (Thanks, @travpol!)

Zombie Princess Leia and Stormtrooper cosplayers

Vill4no snapped this great shot of zombie Star Wars cosplayers at Megacon 2012, where there was much awesomeness on display, judging from the rest of the set.

Best Star Wars Cosplay ever

Losar: Tibetan New Year, and "mandatory celebrations"

Inside Tibet and elsewhere, ethnic Tibetans are today observing Losar, or Tibetan New Year. Above: Tibetan women pray around Labrang Monastery in Xiahe county, Gansu Province.

Three Tibetan Buddhist monks set have themselves on fire since Friday, in the latest reported self-immolations denouncing Chinese policies in Tibet and demanding the return of the Dalai Lama. The youngest was an 18-year-old named Nangdrol. From the Tibetan government in exile:

He died on the spot. Chinese police officers attempted to take away his body, but were prevented from doing so by the monks of Zamthang Jonang monastery. The monks later cremated him and performed all the necessary rituals and prayers for the deceased. According to eyewitnesses, while setting himself on fire Nangdrol folded his hands in a gesture of peace, calling for the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet.

Police and military presence are high throughout the region, particularly at monasteries where these tragic acts of self-sacrifice have taken place. By various accounts, as many as 25 Tibetans inside Tibet have self-immolated in protest in the past two years.

Many Tibetans are abstaining from celebrating Losar, as an act of protest and of mourning for those who have burned themselves to death. In response, Communist Party officials in Lhasa have banned those boycotts, resulting in what are described as "mandatory celebrations" of Tibetan New Year. In essence, Beijing is forcing mourning Tibetans to party.

The English-language Global Times, owned by People's Daily (the Communist Party's official newspaper) published this rich line of Newspeak:

The country's Tibetan-populated regions are in a party mood as the Tibetan New Year, or Losar, falls today, striking a stark contrast with the call by the "Tibetan government in exile" to cancel celebrations.

The Losar holiday, which lasts two weeks, is followed by the 53rd anniversary of the Tibetan uprising, which took place on March 10, 1959. It's hard to imagine the climate of military intimidation and surveillance in the region ratcheting up any higher, but the uprising anniversary date typically brings just that.

Read the rest

Boing Boing science editor Maggie live-tweets a cross-country train adventure

Our Maggie Koerth-Baker is on a train adventure across the USA. She's tweeting the ride. Everything about this is awesome. Here's a storify collection of most of her tweets.

(thanks, Chris!).

This Is My Home

A short film about the happy side of hoarding by Kelsey Holtaway and Mark Cersosimo of Departure Arrival Films:

On an unseasonably warm November night in Manhattan on our way to get ice cream, we stumbled upon what appeared to be a vintage shop, brightly lit display window and all. As we began to walk in, a man sitting out front warned us that we were welcome to explore, but nothing inside was for sale. Our interests piqued, we began to browse through the collections the man out front had built throughout his life. This is a story of a man and his home.

[Video Link]

How Facebook decides which images to allow

Wondering why your Facebook breastfeeding image was blocked, but not the image of a deep wound your friend posted? Wonder no more. A leaked document reveals the weird, arcane, and extremely detailed guidelines used to determine which images are Facebook-safe.

Facebook bans images of breastfeeding if nipples are exposed – but allows "graphic images" of animals if shown "in the context of food processing or hunting as it occurs in nature". Equally, pictures of bodily fluids – except semen – are allowed as long as no human is included in the picture; but "deep flesh wounds" and "crushed heads, limbs" are OK ("as long as no insides are showing"), as are images of people using marijuana but not those of "drunk or unconscious" people.

Facebook's nudity and violence guidelines are laid bare (via Naked Capitalism)

Creepy cartoons of the day

Modern cereal box art features beloved characters rendered in a certain overdone pseudo-3D style. The technique: slickly-gradated shadows with intense highlights. When done well, the result offers the vividness and "pop" of computer graphics, without losing the hand-drawn warmth of a traditional 'toon.

Done badly, and it causes goosebumps. Take the Fred Flintstone on this cereal box, for example. Those too-shiny highlights are applied, as if at gunpoint, over a too-realistic stubble texture. Like a corpse dipped in urethane, it has all the gross realism of Untooned Homer.

Bonus creepy! Check out the latest rendering of Smokey Bear, the once-cute mascot of the U.S. Park Service.

Smokey is now highly-enriched nightmare fuel. But it's not those dead eyes, melted reactors deep within the CGI exclusion zone, that will haunt you. It's the neat row of human milk teeth, glistening in the reeking forest stool pit of his mouth.

Previously: Badly-drawn cereal characters & What the heck is this weird skin flap on Boo Berry?

Pronunciation Guide: extremely funny videos on how to pronounce things

[Video Link], via Sean Bonner. I LOL'd, then cried, then hit play again and LOL'd some more. CONTAINS HELVETICA.

Know What: a new kind of hyper-curated city guide for iphones (android coming soon)

Know What is a new travel guide for LA and San Francisco (with New York, Chicago, Portland coming soon). It's available on the iPhone, and you can buy additional guides from different people. I contributed a guide for 25 spots around LA, called "Unicorns, Carnivorous Plants & Other Angelenos I've Known and Loved." You can get it as an in-app purchase.

Know What Mark Frauenfelder Unicorns Carnivorous Plants-1 Know What is kinda like the anti-Yelp -- instead of 10,000 angry know-it-alls spitting venom cuz they read the menu wrong, it's all people who know better than anybody what they're talking about. And what they're talking about is their favorite places and local joints in the cities they know best.

And fighting back against the bland-ification of life.

People from groundbreaking websites like, and

Brilliantly creative folks like Weetzie Bat author Francesca Lia Block, OC Weekly editor Gustavo Arellano, and Girls Gone Child blogger Rebecca Woolf

Mission-driven non-profits like the LA Conservancy, SF Heritage and SPUR

Purveyors of rare and vital information like Esotouric, Thinkwalks and LA Bizarro, the best selling guide to LA's absurd underbelly

And they take us to some amazing places – lots of places that (gasp! is it possible?) don't even exist online. We're currently covering LA and San Francisco, with New York, Chicago, Portland, and Seattle coming really soon.

Touch earthquakes with your bare hands in SF … eat Korean BBQ that'll melt your brain off in LA … drink with ghosts at Bukowski's favorite bar … guaranteed make-outs at the Bay's best secret view (*actually guaranteed) … get your mind thoroughly blown by all the awesome nobody even knows about in San Jose (and likewise Orange County. YES -- Orange County).

And it's priced so that you buy what you want, don't pay for what you don't, and the whole time you're supporting all these great people and non-profits that are doing their thing to keep the internet and the world super rad. ($2.99 gets you the app with more to do than you've got time for, and you can keep adding content for less than the cost of an old bag of Jolly Ranchers.)
Know What

Ooky ceiling lamp

Daniel Ritthanondh's "Barnacle Ceiling Lamp" is a tribute to the decor in the game Half Life, an altogether ooky bit of ceiling sculpture. Not yet available for sale, but Ritthanondh advises that a limited run will be forthcoming.

Barnacle Ceiling Lamp! (via Neatorama)

Every opening of Beethoven's "Eroica" symphony

[Video Link]. YouTube viewer comment: "I liked the part where they played the opening chords of the symphony."

(thanks, Joe Sabia!)

BBC News mashup finds parallel universe between lines

Cassetteboy vs. The News: "There's been a shocked response around the world to video footage appearing to show U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urinating on Boris Johnson." [YouTube via Metafilter]

The Ballad of Justin Bloody Bieber, sung by 82-year-old gentleman

Video Link: "Justin, Bloody Justin, Bloody Bieber," by Hugh Oliver (website).

It is reckoned that he's hotter
Than Harry fucking Potter,
His hairdo like some wagging gold retriever,
Looking lovely, looking cute
In his pater-knity suit,
Our Justin, bloody Justin, bloody Bieber.

The scorpion on the wall is a nice touch.

(thanks, Joe Sabia!)

Earnest Biblical gentleman refutes rotating Earth, heliocentrism, relativity

In this earnest, protracted video, an emphatic gentleman argues that the Earth does not rotate, and stresses that if science's claims to the contrary are accepted, that this will call all of the Bible into question. 35 minutes later, I have watched many inspirational minicopter launches from the hood of a moving pickup truck to the accompaniment of wailing rock-n-roll guitars, while tiny, repetitive type rolls across the screen. It's quite a convincer. Also: Motocross! Parasailing! Babies with glasses! Mumbo jumbo excuses! RUBBISH I SAY!!!

The earth is not rotating - spinning - or moving !! (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

Autonomous truss-climbing robot reconfigures buildings on the fly

Cornell's Franz Nigl and Jeremy Blum demonstrate their truss-climbing robot in this video, which accompanies a paper accepted into IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine. The robot can climb and reconfigure the trusses in a 3D structure, redesigning a building on the fly, autonomously. It would be pretty cool to see a swarm of these running a genetic algorithm, dynamically redesigning a skyscraper.

This video presents a robot capable of autonomously traversing and manipulating a 3D truss structure. The robot is able to approach and traverse multiple structural joints using a combination of translational and rotational motions. A key factor in allowing reliable motion and engagements is the use of specially designed structural building blocks comprised of bidirectional geared rods. A set of traversal plans, each comprised of basic motion primitives, were analyzed for speed, robustness, and repeatability. Paths covering eight joints are demonstrated, as well as automatic element assembly and disassembly. We suggest that the robot architecture and truss module design, such as the one presented here, could open the door to robotically assembled, maintained, and reconfigured structures that would ordinarily be difficult, risky, or time consuming for humans to construct.

Autonomous Robotic Truss Reconfiguration and Manipulation (via Beyond the Beyond)